Nico Rosberg has admitted that circumstance played as big a part as anything in denying him a spot on the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix.

The German had, along with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, been the favourite for pole position at the opening round of the 2014 F1 world championship, but found himself pushed back to a spot on row two as Red Bull - with Daniel Ricciardo rather than four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel - split the two Silver Arrows in a wet qualifying session at Albert Park in Melbourne.

Asked whether he and the team had got the timing of his second run wrong, Rosberg conceded that, while it may have been a little off, a combination of the conditions and Ricciardo's unexpectedly sparkling form also played a part as heavy rain swept across the circuit ahead of Q3.

"I'm not really sure what the others were doing but, for sure, we didn't get it quite right," the German allowed, "You don't really know what's going to happen, and I don't think we did much wrong but, of course, in hindsight, you can always say 'we could have done this better or that better'.

"All in all, I think it was a good qualifying session. Third? I'm pleased with that - it could have been better, but I know we have a quick race car so, from there for sure, a good race is possible."

With Mercedes remaining the pre-race favourite after finishing the final practice session more than a second clear of the field, Rosberg and Hamilton will be expected to overcome Ricciardo and battle over victory on Sunday, but the German is wary of predicting too much, particularly as the weather and reliability amongst all eleven teams remains uncertain.

"Tomorrow is going to be a completely different story to today, depending on the weather and things like that," he confirmed, "We don't really know what is going to happen.

"There is a small chance of rain tomorrow, but I think it is more likely that it is going to be dry. This year, [the race] is going to be totally different. Melbourne is the most difficult track for fuel consumption, so it's going to be difficult to save enough fuel in the race - a big challenge."